Susan Moosewaypayo received an award for leadership at this year’s Indigenous Student Achievement Awards.

Mystery nurse a deciding factor for student’s career path

Inspired by a negative experience and a positive caregiver, Susan Moosewaypayo is working hard and challenging her fears

Moosewaypayo, a College of Nursing student at the La Ronge campus, has excelled in both her academic and clinical classes. Along with two of her classmates, she produced an original video and song which promotes the lifesaving use of naloxone. It is currently being used by high school staff in northern Saskatchewan.

Moosewaypayo received an award for leadership at this year’s Indigenous Student Achievement Awards (ISAA), held on Feb. 7. Indigenous students from across the University of Saskatchewan (USask) were honoured at a ceremony to recognize their academic excellence, leadership, research endeavours or community engagement.

The ISAA is part of Indigenous Achievement Week (IAW) which celebrates the successes and contributions of Métis, First Nations and Inuit students, staff and faculty. The festivities included a public art project, speakers and celebrations in various locations across campus.

We asked Moosewaypayo a few questions about her time at USask and what motivates her. 

Why did you choose nursing?

I have three sons and started my family at a young age. I did not graduate high school, as family was the priority at the time. As my children aged, I debated on going to school, as I was working two jobs to support my family. I started in Adult Basic Education (ABE) 10 at Northlands College. I had a totally different career path in mind. When I entered ABE 12, I got terribly sick. It occurred suddenly and I ended up in the hospital on Christmas day. I was sent from La Ronge to Prince Albert for surgery. During this time, I received care from many nurses. Some were unhappy and not empathetic that I left my family, my youngest was only four months old, on Christmas. During recovery, I continued my classes but got sick again. I was sent back to have surgery yet again. This time I had a terrible experience with surgery. There were a few nurses that cared and actually remembered me. One especially was my motivation for choose nursing. I want to give that feeling to others. She took the time to get me back on my feet. I still need to find her and thank her for her time. I had a difficult time deciding what type of nurse I wanted to be, a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse (RN), but that one nurse that cared for me was an RN and that was the deciding factor.

You and two of your classmates produced a song and video that promotes the lifesaving use of naloxone. How did this project come about?

Our class in La Ronge consisted of three people. We became very close and worked through classes as a team. We had a group assignment in our 422-class that asked us to do research and find an area of improvement in our community. Currently, there has been many cases of opioid overdoses and our project involves engaging minority, marginalized and vulnerable populations in their own healthcare. We looked at how we can educate, motivate and empower drug users and their families and friends to use naloxone. We also attempt to reduce stigma around the need for and use of naloxone. We recognized the need and responded. I have to give the credit to Tina Shaw for having the heart to put so much effort into writing and composing the song.

Is the connection between health care and music something you are interested in exploring? 

This has not crossed my mind, but for this song we aimed for the younger population. We recognized that the younger population are easily inspired by music. Myself, I have a teen son who never takes his earphones off. This was our connection. It was exciting to have such great feedback from this song, and maybe I will explore it further in the future.

What plans do you have for the future?

My plan for the future is to work in an acute setting. I feel that my experiences have guided me to go this career route. I want to give my family the life they deserve. I worked so hard to be where I am and it was all for them. I am interested in beginning my career at the North Battleford hospital, BUH, where my husband and I can purchase a house and be a family again. It is sad to say that nursing school took over my life and my family have been patient.

Has there been someone in your life who has inspired you to get to where you are today?

I am thankful for my husband who gave up time with me in order for me to reach my goals. He has been my support and I would never had made it through nursing without him. I am blessed with supporting parents. My mother planted the nursing school seed in my head and I thank her for it. I have learnt a lot about myself within this past few years. Lastly, I would like to thank the team of nurses that have cared for me in my past.

This year’s theme of the Indigenous Achievement Week is Powerful Voices. If there is one thing you can use your voice for in this moment what would it be for?

As a child, I was terrified of hospitals and needles. As an adult, I was afraid of hospitals, needles, and nursing school. I was terrified the majority of the way through nursing school and grew from challenging these fears. I came to understand that fear is debilitating if you let it take over as it is a strong emotion. If I had one thing to use a powerful voice for it would be to encourage others. In order to grow, you must tackle your fears.

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